Kirk Lightsey is a Michigan-born pianist of immense accomplishment and versatility who worked with scores of major jazz stars. He had piano instruction from the age of five and studied piano and clarinet throughout high school. In 1954 he was awarded a music scholarship to Wayne University to study clarinet. Lightsey also played for Motown hit recording sessions, and made time to study with classical pianist Boris Maximovich. In 1979 Lightsey joined the late Dexter Gordon’s group, one of the greatest American jazz tenor saxophonists, whom he had a five-year association with.
He signed with Sunnyside label, and in 1982 released Lightsey I, a solo piano recording. Then in 1983, pianist Harold Danko and Lightsey released Shorter by Two, a magnificent dual keyboard look at Wayne Shorter’s compositions. Lightsey also recorded on the Timeless, Criss Cross, Limetree and Evidence labels before he moved to France in the mid-‘90s. While touring in Europe, he conducted the Bucharest Symphony Orchestra and the Scala Symphony Orchestra in Spain, and also conducted the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. Apart from being a legendary pianist, Lightsey is also an accomplished flautist and occasionally doubles on flute in live performances.
Gaoyang Li is a renowned jazz saxophonist and the first Chinese Jazz artiste to be featured in famous jazz media, ‘All About Jazz’. He is known for his hard bop, post bop, modern jazz and fusion, but fans of Li’s work often dub his style to be a great mix of ‘East meets West’. Being recognised for his talents across the globe has led him to be awarded an “Outstanding Chinese Instrumentalist” award by the Chinese Music Awards.
Christy Smith is a bassist who has been based in Singapore since 1993, and has become an important role model for aspiring jazz musicians in the city. A graduate from Fullerton University, California, he spent several years touring with symphony orchestras and big band, appearing with artists like Stevie Wonder, Sarah Vaughn, Billy Higgins, Eddie Harris and Alphonse Mouzon to name a few. He’s known for playing hard-nosed funk grooves as well as improvising over complex jazz progressions.
Lewis Pragasam is one of the most accomplished and sought-after drummers in Asia and is hailed as a music legend. He has garnered international and critical acclaim as one of Asia’s leading drum/percussion exponents and an innovator of new trends in World Music. Lewis is the founder of pioneering Asiabeat project, started in 1979, whose recordings and performances are now legendary in the merging of Asian and Contemporary music styles.